Are you or is someone you love facing a sex offense charge? Do you wonder how it could have gotten this out-of-control?
One reason to write about pornography and its effect on your brain is that we see the impact of widespread internet porn use in this country through interactions with the law. Here are some of the ways you could end up in prison because of porn addiction:
- Escalating porn use leading to illegal forms of pornography, like child pornography.
- Pornography use drives sex trafficking.
- Violent behaviors learned from what is now mainstream perpetrated on a partner.
- Sexual assault and rape.
- Underage sexting and soliciting.
The effects of widespread pornography are starting to show up. A quarter of adult women report that they fear they will be choked during sex, penetrated anally, or before they are aroused.
Thirteen percent of girls ages 14-17 have already been choked during sex. Doctors report seeing the kind of injuries associated with rape in women who say they were not raped. And child pornography and sex trafficking have become a billion-dollar industry though it is illegal.
Is this all true? Does pornography use have the power to lead you into behaviors you wouldn’t otherwise dream of doing? The answer is disturbing, but there is hope.
How Pornography Rewires Your Brain
How can someone become aroused by something that intellectually repulses them? Before internet pornography, these behaviors were very uncommon.
The answer is that your brain is a hungry organ. It takes up about 20% of your body’s energy and oxygen because it’s always learning. Particularly when you are young, it learns by forming neuronal pathways for any activity you repeat. Your brain creates these pathways best when it is doing something it loves – when it’s in a “deeply satisfying state of focused attention.”
Couple this preferred way of learning for your brain with the stimulation of its reward center – the place that makes the cocktail of hormones that give you a temporary buzz – and you have the perfect conditions for addiction. Porn can and does become more powerful to your brain even than actual sex with a partner!
Exposed at a Young Age
Now, remember that most young men (and increasingly, young women) are exposed to internet porn around age 11. However, that age of first exposure is getting younger and younger as more kids carry smartphones.
The brain is much more elastic in adolescents and pre-adolescents than for adults. Kids who get hooked on porn early on are much more likely to suffer long-term effects.
The reason so many women are afraid of being choked or that sex trafficking is so prevalent? It’s like with any drug: the brain becomes desensitized over time. You need a bigger “hit” to achieve the same level of arousal and pleasure you experienced the first time you saw porn. This translates to seeking more illicit or shocking images because they trigger those hormones – and not all of them are pleasant.
Often, the anxiety of seeing something repulsive becomes part of the drug cocktail. Many, many young men can’t become aroused without this type of stimulus and are experiencing erectile dysfunction at high rates.
Unfortunately, there is online controversy about all of this. If you look it up, you will see mainstream articles downplaying or refuting the idea that porn or sex can be addictive and lead to harmful behaviors and sexual dysfunction.
A few researchers are putting out poor research designed to support the claims of the porn industry. The problem is that the porn industry is incredibly rich and powerful.
Don’t believe the lies. There are over 50 peer-reviewed studies that prove porn addiction. Not to mention many men and women whose lives were destroyed by porn who can attest.
The hopeful part is this: the brain’s elasticity works both ways. Once you stop using that drug, reinforcing that pathway, and washing your brain in those powerful hormones, your brain can go back to normal.
Most of the time, getting off of porn will solve the problem of erectile dysfunction prevalent in so many young men. Additionally, there is a growing number of men and women who have quit porn successfully who can help you figure out how to do it and become your support system.
If you are facing the criminal charges due to the tangled web of the effects of pornography, you will need an experienced defense attorney. Call my office today for a free consultation.